The Firm – also known as “Monarchy PLC” (Royal Company) – acts as the face of a $28 billion empire, in charge of “pumping” hundreds of millions of pounds into the UK economy each year.
The name The Firm is often referred to by Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip. He calls the royal family a “family business”. Earlier, the Queen’s father, King George VI, also declared in his younger years: “We are not a family. We are a company”.
The Firm is a “business” of royal stature with a team of private secretaries, media consultants, female officials, householders, drivers, housekeepers, gardeners… Only Buckingham Palace has has more than 400 employees. All these people run the palace and the lives of the members of the Royal Family are encapsulated in it.
Penny Junor, a royal historian who wrote “The Firm: The Trouble Life of the House of Windsor”, said: “It is very difficult to tell whether this is a family or a corporate system.” She also revealed that members of the Royal Family use private secretaries for personal affairs such as inviting their parents or children to dinner. Ms. Junor said: “The royal family is not a family that communicates with each other. They are certainly not good at taking care of each other.”
The lavish weddings, trips to the countries of the Commonwealth and countless ceremonies have attracted great interest from the public and generated profits for this business. The story of the Royal family is also a “gold mine” for the British media. More than three years ago, Brand Finance, a UK-based brand valuation firm, estimated The Firm’s contribution to the media industry at nearly $70 million.
Who runs The Firm and reaps the most benefits has been a controversial question for years. Previously, in addition to the Queen, 7 members of the Royal Family held the power of The Firm, including King Charles III and Queen Camilla (duchess of Cornwall); Prince William (head of the line of succession) and his wife Kate (Duchess of Cambridge); Princess Anne (the Queen’s daughter); Prince Edward (the Queen’s youngest son) and his wife Sophie (Countess of Wessex). According to royal historian and commentator Carolyn Harris, the encapsulation of The Firm’s sphere of power is intended to consolidate resources, as well as control reputation.
The Firm’s organizational chart affirms the status of this 1,000-year-old “family business”, and the public is aware that maintaining it is important to the Royal Family. David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, explains: “It’s a business that has a huge impact on the face of the country.” However, unlike a famous family like the Kardashians, the Windsors do not make a personal profit from the business itself, even though they contribute an estimated $2.7 billion annually to the UK economy in the pre-pandemic period.
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the throne and the Firm from her father by surprise. King George VI didn’t even have time to tell her how to manage the business. Prince Philip was once a powerful member of The Firm, but he has officially stepped down from his duties. In addition to losing Prince Harry, in the past year The Firm also deposed another high-ranking member, Prince Andrew, due to his close ties to criminal Jeffrey Epstein.
In addition to the extended family, the Royal Family of Windsor has thousands of employees around the world. Buckingham Palace alone has about 1,200 people. According to a recent job listing on the palace’s official portal, a novice IT specialist can earn up to $40,000 a year, as well as Palace benefits. The Crown Estate, the monarchy’s wealth watchdog, also employs 450 more people, including a board of directors that makes financial decisions for the state.
Queen Elizabeth II. Source: Getty Images
Being a member of The Firm also comes with the responsibility of keeping the money machine running for generations to come. As of 2021, the company holds nearly $28 billion in real estate. Of which, the Crown Estate (a collection of lands and properties in the United Kingdom belonging to the Queen) is worth $19.5 billion, Buckingham Palace is estimated at $4.9 billion, and the Principality of Cornwall $1.3 billion. , Principality of Lancaster $748 million, Kensington Palace estimated $630 million and Crown Estate Scotland $592 million.
In the financial year ended March 31, 2020, Crown Estate brought in more than $700 million, with more than $475 million in profits. The royal family receives 25% of its income from the Crown Estate, and the remaining 75% goes to the British Treasury. According to Forbes, the 2021 Royal Grant is about $120 million, to be used for official expenses, including salaries, security, travel, cleaning, maintenance and IT costs.
The Queen’s personal expenses and the expenses of a few other members of the family are also supported through another income from the Principality of Lancaster called Privy Purse (private fund). In the most recent financial year, the Principality reported a profit of $30 million.
Forbes also estimates that Queen Elizabeth once owned $500 million in personal wealth including the Sovereign Grant, the Lancaster Principality estate and other investments. Furthermore, she owns estates of her own, including Balmoral Castle in Scotland and the Sandringham estate in the East of England.
Balmoral Castle in Scotland, owned by the royal family since 1852, the Queen spent the last days of her life here. Source: Getty Images
Her wealth is not limited to real estate. The Queen also owns “the best and most comprehensive collection of British and Commonwealth stamps in the world”, horses, jewelry, stocks, antique coins, as well as leftover Queen artwork. inherited from his mother in 2002. Much of it was passed on to King Charles III.
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Like the Queen, King Charles III does not directly own $28 billion of The Firm, but rather belongs to the reigning monarch, including the Crown Estate in Scotland, the Principality of Lancaster, the Principality of Cornwall and two Buckingham palaces. and Kensington. According to Business Insider, a special legal provision has been put in place to exempt King Charles III from 40% of the inheritance tax to avoid atrophy of the royal family’s assets, according to an agreement with former Prime Minister John Major last year. 1993.
King Charles III officially succeeded to the throne after the Queen’s death. Source: Getty Images
The most valuable asset King Charles holds is the Crown Estate, a vast real estate portfolio with a net worth of $17.5 billion. Those properties include Regent Street, London’s premier commercial shopping street, Ascot Racecourse (the Queen’s favorite) and most of the seabed in the UK.
In addition to the Royal Pension, the 73-year-old monarch also owns a huge personal fortune, most of his large annual profits from the Principality of Cornwall. Today, the Principality has 150 employees managing a portfolio of more than 130,000 acres of property across the South West of England, valued at nearly $1.3 billion. This year alone, the Principality of Cornwall brought him about $27 million. His eldest son, Prince William, will now inherit.
As with the Crown Estate, King Charles cannot sell properties belonging to the Principality, but he can make money from them. In 2020, by renting to retailers, farmers and residents, the Principality brought in more than $50 million in revenue. The Principality of Cornwall was more profitable to the King than the Royal Grant.